external image gallstone.jpg

What are Gallstones?

Cholesterol Gallstones
Cholesterol Gallstones

Gallstones develope in the gallbladder, and are tiny, pebble like substances. When liquids, called bile, in the gallbladder hardens, gallstones are produces. Bile, being made in the liver, is stored in the gallbladder until the body needs it to help digest fats. When needed, the bile is pushed into a tube by the gallbladder. The tube is called 'the common bile duct' and it carries the bile into the small intestine to help with digestion.
Bile contains cholesterol, bile salts, proteins, water, fats and a waste product called bilirubin.If the liquid bile has too much cholesteral, bilirubin or bile salts, it can coagulate into gallstones.

Mixed Stones Pigment
Mixed Stones Pigment

There are two types of gallstones: Cholesterol and Pigment Stones. The ones that are usually yellow-green are Cholesterol Stones and (obviously) are primarily mad of hardened cholesterol. The small, dark stones are Pigment Stones and are made of (not so obviously) bilirubin. Their size can range from a tiny grain of sand to a huge golf ball. The gallbladder may have only one type, or both.
These stones block the bile ducts, and if it is left untreated, the results may be fatal.


  • At the back, between the soulder blades, there is pain
    external image vomiting.jpg
  • Pain under right shoulder
  • Pain in upper-right abdomen that increases really fast and lasts for 30mins to a few hours
  • Extended pain- more than 5 hrs
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Fever or chills
  • Yellowish colour on whites of eyes, or skin
  • Stools that are clay-coloured

Who is mostly at risk?

  • People taking cholesterol-lowering drugs external image famous-cartoon-character-fat-albert.jpg
  • People with a family history of gallstones
  • People with diabetes
  • Mexican Americans
  • People aged 60+
  • Women- especially pregnant ones who uses pregnancy preventation pills or hormone replacement therapy
  • People who lose alot of weight quickly
  • American Indians
  • Obese men and women

Is there a cure for gallstones?

Luckily, there is a cure for gallstones. Cholecystectomy is an operation to have your gallbladder removed. Most cholecystectomies are performed with laparoscopy. With that, the surgeon can gallbladder.
But if you want to avoid surgery, you can:

  • Oral dissolution therapy. Which are drugs that are made from bile acid and used to dissolve gallstones. Ursodiol (Actigall) and chenodiol (Chenix) are drugs that work best for small cholesterol stones. Months or years or maybe even decades of treatment may be essential before all the stones dissolve. Both drugs might cause minor diarrhea, and chenodiol may raise levels of blood cholesterol.
  • Contact dissolution therapy. This involves injecting a drug directly into the gallbladder to dissolve cholesterol stones.Methyl tert-butyl ether (the drug) can dissolve some stones in 1 to 3 days, but causes irritation and a few complications have been reported.


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